The best lyrics are lyrics that mystify. In Lou Reed's immortal, and unknown, 'Bottoming Out' from his Legendary Hearts album from 1983, the singing character has problems. Rather than beating up a significant other, he takes off to punish the asphalt with his motorcycle tread. At one curve, drunk, disaster strikes.
'I'm cruising fast on a motorcycle down this winding country road... And I pass the gravel on the foot of the hill where last week I fell off... There's still some oil by the old elm tree, and a dead squirrel that I hit... But if I hadn't left, I would've struck you dead, so I took a ride instead'
Lou/character confides that he hit 'a dead squirrel,' which prompts questioning and reflection by careful listeners. The lyrics suggest that Lou/character hit an already dead squirrel with his motorcycle, not an alive one. He may have 'hit' it with his tires, or -- more likely -- he wrecked (thus the 'oil by the old elm tree') THEN noticed a dead squirrel which he, in a state of angst, punched with his fist.
Bob Dylan's album, just out, contains another great morsel of confusion. The lead-off 'Thunder on the Mountain' features the following in its second verse:
'I was thinkin' 'bout Alicia Keys, couldn't keep from crying... When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line.
I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be... I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee'
It's humorous, inventive and misguided. Ms Keys actually was born in Harlem, but raised in Hell's Kitchen. She's never lived in Tennessee. Bob did the math and noted he was living downtown when Ms Keys was born way uptown. But why bring it up in the second stanza of your first studio album since 9/11? The inclusion of Ms Keys, paired with Tennessee, in lyric deserves something. So the FBO awards Bob Dylan a 'Ribbon for Confusion Lyrical Merit'.
POLL QUESTION: Do you think Lou Reed punched a dead squirrel, ran over a dead squirrel or ran over a live squirrel that died shortly thereafter?
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